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Floresca, et al. v.

Philex Mining Corporation


G.R. No. L-30642
April 30, 1985

FACTS:
Perfecto, Romulo, and Nestor Floresca (petitioners) were the heirs of the deceased employees
of Philex Mining Corporation (respondent). While working at the respondent’s copper mines
underground operations, the said deceased employees died as a result of the cave-in that
buried them in the tunnels of mine. The petitioners therefore argued that the respondent
negligently and deliberately failed to take the required precautions for the protection of the
lives of its men working underground. The respondent also acted in utter disregard of its bound
legal and moral duties in the premises when they decided to abandon recure operations
despite of the fact that a great many of mine workers were still alive, trapped in the tunnels of
the mine.

Philex filed a motion to dismiss alleging that the causes of actions of the petitioners based on
industrial accident are covered by the provisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Act and that
the Court of First Instance that heard the case has no jurisdiction over it. The petitioners
however filed an opposition to the aforementioned motion claiming that the causes of action
are based on the provisions of the Civil Code and not on the former. The judgment was to
dismiss the case based on the grounds presented by the respondent and that the petitioners
already received a compensation making them not entitled for a damage suit. The petitioners
filed for motion for reconsideration which was accepted, and allowed the respondent to file an
answer to the complaint. The judgment however stayed the same.

ISSUE:
1. Whether or not the petitioners have a right of selection of action between availing
themselves of the worker’s right under the Workmen’s Compensation Act and suing
under the Civil Code for higher damages, or both?
2. Does the lower court have jurisdiction over the cause of action which is based on the
provisions of the Civil Code on damages and not on the provisions of the Workmen’s
Compensation Act?
HELD:
1. Yes. The petitioners should be choosing only one of the two to be filed against the
respondent which is stated under Section 5 of WCA. However, due to the peculiarity of
the instances, the Court allowed the petitioners to further file for a civil suit despite
receiving a previous compensation from the respondent under WCA. This is because the
petitioner did not know that the cause of the accident was that of the negligence of the
respondent. Hence, there was a mistake of fact on the part of the petitioner. Had they
known the true cause of action, they would have known that they have two choices,
that is, a compensation under WCA or filing a civil suit. Hence, this case was given an
exception to Section 5 of WCA.
2. Yes. Since the petitioners of this case were given an exception to the Section 5 of WCA,
the lower court has now jurisdiction over the cause of action.